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James Dyson

James Dyson (1810-1888) was born in Manchester and arrived in the colony via Napoleon, 10 January 1841. He was married first (in 1842) to Frances Overton Hoffingham (d. 1859) and then to Jane Devling (m. 1861, four children). James was the father of George Dyson, Joseph Dyson, William Dyson, Hannah Dyson, Thomas Dyson, Andrew Dyson, John Dyson, Matthew Dyson, Samuel Dyson, George Dyson, Samuel Dyson, Septimus Dyson and Octavius Charles Dyson (WikiTree).
Alan Thompson is writing a book called Dyson's Swamp.

Alan Thompson, with Julie Dyson
James Dyson was a former convict who came to WA in 1841 after serving seven years in Tasmania. He was a representative of the West Ward of the Perth City Council 1867-1875, and was heavily involved in the council opening of the Perth Town Hall, which celebrated its 150th anniversary in 2020. He also supplied building materials such as bricks and timber for heritage buildings, including the Wesley Church in Perth city and the Quod prison on Rottnest Island. He sold timber kerbing to the Council when not being prosecuted by them for cutting trees on council land without a licence. Before the era of pensions and health insurance for workers, he was Chairman and Treasurer for early friendly societies such as The Sons of Australia Benefit Society and the International Order of Oddfellows.
James Dyson was the original owner of what is now Lake Jualbup in Shenton Park. It was known as Dyson's Swamp until he sold it to George Shenton, when it became known as Shenton Park Lake. James died on his son Joseph's property on the corner of William & Murray Streets, Perth, 19 July 1888.

James Dyson's gravestone in 2013. The inscription reads:
In memory of James Dyson, born at Manchester, 15th Oct. 1810, died at Perth 19th July 1888; also Frances, first wife of the above, died 12th May 1850; also Jane, second wife of the above, born 1st Sept 1833, died 13th Aug. 1900; also fourteen children of the above. Peace Perfect Peace. The memorial was erected by his son Andrew (Drewey)

Alan Thompson continues:
James's grave is in the heritage-listed Old East Perth Cemetery and the headstone is in poor condition. Some of the Dyson descendants are keen to have it restored, and the National Trust has quoted about $3,000 to restore the headstone, now lying on the ground, and another $3,000 to restore the original iron fence.  See for more information about this project.

Dyson family historian Alan Thompson has compiled a comprehensive website about James Dyson and his descendants, and a basic family tree of those of his children who had families of their own. See and from here explore more of James's story.

Julie Dyson's 'before' photo of the gravestone:

Update 2022: James Dyson's gravestone has been restored!

Julie Dyson's photo after restoration.

WikiTree page for James Dyson:

James came to Western Australia on the Napoleon, arriving on 10 January 1841.[1]

He married Frances Hoffingham in 1842 in Perth.[2] According to the Bicentennial Dictionary of Western Australians,[1] Frances was a widow, but given her name was record as Hoffingham for the births of her children, this is not clear. They had four children prior to Fanny's death in 1850.

He later married Jane Edwards (nee Devling) in 1861 in Perth.[3] It is believed James and Jane had been having an affair since at least 1852 and her son James Edwards was purportedly fathered by James Dyson. Jane and James seem to have been living together by the birth of Thomas in 1855.[4]

James worked as a pit sawyer at first, then a gardener. In 1860 he qualified as a juror having £150 in personal estate. In Perth he was a baker, butcher, general dealer and timber merchant. He was a member of the Perth City Council in 1870. He employed 77 Ticket of Leave men on occasions from 1851 to 1879 including sawyers, shinglesplitters and brickmakers.[1]

Inquirer and Commercial News (Perth, WA : 1855 - 1901), Friday 22 June 1888, page 5
DYSON.— At his residence, corner of William and Murray streets, June 19, 1888, JAMES DYSON, general dealer; aged 78. He died in peace.[5]

Daily News (Perth, WA : 1882 - 1955), Saturday 23 June 1888, page 3
A correspondent, writing of the late Mr. James Dyson, who had resided in Western Australia for nearly fifty years, and whose death we recorded last Tuesday, says: — James Dyson was born in Lancashire, in October, 1810, and arrived in this colony in the early part of 1841, in the barque Napoleon. Shortly after his arrival he commenced business as a pitsawyer — a laborious occupation, but of a most lucrative nature in days previous to the application of steam machinery. After about nearly twenty years he established himself in town as timber merchant and general dealer, and in those days was amongst the largest employers of labor in the colony. He succeeded in business and made a competency, but later on he met with reverses and became somewhat reduced in circumstances. He was one of the oldest surviving members of the Sons of Australia Benefit Society, and the incidence is worth recording that he was buried on the fifty-first anniversary of its formation. Mr. Dyson had a numerous family of no less than twenty-one children — fourteen of whom are still living, besides twenty-two grand children. The deceased filled office in the City Council as a representative of the West Ward for nine years in succession, and it is his due to add that he worked hard in the interest of his constituents and for the citizens in general.[6]


1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 The Bicentennial dictionary of Western Australians, pre-1829-1888. [compiled by Rica Erickson],
2. WA Marriage Index 1842/47
3. WA Marriage Index 1861/1586

References and Links

National Trust, 2021, 'Dyson grave restoration at East Perth Cemeteries', 9 April.

Some of Alan Thompson's blog pages:

Garry Gillard | New: 30 April, 2020 | Now: 3 September, 2023